The Law Society Gazette reported in December 2018 about a case of libel arising out of a “tweet” on the social media forum Twitter. Even where the Defendant, who was ordered to pay £40,000.00 in damages, did not himself write the “offending tweet”.
Briefly, the background to the case, Zahir Monir -v-Steve Wood 2018, is that Mr Wood did not himself write the tweet, but the actual author, one John Langley, did and was held to have been acting as Mr Wood’s agent when he did so. The content of the tweet does not matter so much, as the point of this article is not to write about libel as such, but to consider the apparent difference in compensation for someone who would not appear to have been physically injured and someone who is. It is not intended to belittle those who truly do suffer “serious harm” from false allegations that are seen and often believed by many and can cause a great deal of distress and financial loss if say, a business and personal reputation is lost.
Compensation in this matter was limited because very few people actually saw the tweet and it had a limited audience. The judge said that had the allegations been published in a national newspaper, damages of a quarter of a million pounds or more may have been justified. A substantial amount of money.
It is a similar situation with delays on transport, particularly airlines. There are fixed amounts of compensation for delays which are not caused by something outside the airline’s control. You have a right to these in law if your delay fulfills the criteria; the airline automatically triggers the compensation in set circumstances.
Delays are unfortunate, frustrating and inconvenient. They lead to families missing important occasions but spent on an airport lounge floor. Not good.
But when contrasted with the awards given for even the most seriously injured people with life -changing injuries, is this a fair system? Awards for injury in this country are historically relatively low and many people are surprised when they find out that for instance, even a spinal injury rendering someone reliant on a wheelchair, carers and unable to work, compensation FOR THE INJURY ITSELF could only be in the region of £250,000.00. Of course, claims can be made for the economic consequences of that injury, which can run into millions of pounds. But the point is, surely, the injury is lifelong.
A slander or libel may well fade into history as time goes on (admittedly, not all). An airline delay is usually just that for most people– a delay. Mainly irritating, but usually not life-threatening.
The Civil Liability Act 2018, coming into force April 2020 will highlight this further.
The limit for making a claim in which in addition to compensation legal costs are awarded will rise from £1000.00 to £5000.00 for road traffic accidents and £2000.00 for other types of accident. So many may lose out on compensation for sometimes quite painful and restricting injuries, as they will almost certainly be required to make the claim themselves.
We can automatically give compensation for a lost day’s holiday, which for a family could run into thousands of pounds. Yet we are about to make injured people struggle to obtain compensation for often life long injuries, or lose out altogether.
So that you know what your rights are always talk to a Solicitor. Our expert team are on hand to talk you through the Civil Liberty Act 2018.
Our Personal Injury and Medical Negligence Teams at Ringrose Law provide free initial advice on any matters.